WJ buying land by Converse Park

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(Posted June 19, 2015)

By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer

The village of West Jefferson is purchasing land but leaders will not elaborate on the reason.

Council members cast a 5-0 vote June 15 giving Mayor Darlene Steele permission to begin work to purchase 25.4 acres of land that lies adjacent to Converse Park. Council members Cory Coburn and Doug Eakins were absent.

“For future use,” said both Steele and council president Ron Garver when asked what the village plans to do with the land, now in agricultural use. The land sits in both the village and Jefferson Township.

“We were able to get it at a good price—$7,000 an acre,” Garver said.

Recreation Center

Toward the end of the meeting, Garver reported on the work being done for a proposed community recreation center. He said another meeting is planned where the committee will discuss operating costs.

Council has already heard a report on the feasibility of constructing such a facility and must make decisions regarding the costs of building and operating it.

“We hope to have something at the second (council) meeting in July,” Garver said, indicating a meeting for public input could be held prior to that meeting.

“Unless we get some big donations, funds are hard to come by,” he said.

The clock is also ticking on whether to put a levy issue on the ballot this year to fund a community recreation center. Issues for the Nov. 3 ballot must be submitted to the Madison County Board of Elections by 4 p.m. Aug. 5.

Elections

Aug. 5 is also the deadline to submit petitions to run for the three at-large seats on West Jefferson council up for election in November. Each seat is a four-year term.

Garver, one of the three at-large representatives on council, is not seeking re-election. His term ends Dec. 31.

“I’ve served in four decades,” he said, ticking off on his fingers “the 80s, the 90s, and two in the 2000s.” He has served as council president for many of those years and has also led the finance committee.

Douglas Eakins and Jim King are the other two councilman currently serving as at-large members. Both plan to run for re-election. Eakins is circulating petitions; King has filed his petitions. To date, no other individuals have picked up or filed petitions to run for the at-large seats.

Steve Johnston, who represents the first ward on council, and Ray Martin, who represents the second ward, are running for mayor on the November ballot. Mayoral hopefuls had to file their petitions for candidacy in February. The election will mean that one of those ward seats will become vacant. Because the ward seats do not expire until the end of 2017, council will need to appoint someone to that unexpired term.

Animal restrictions 

Resident James Aubry appeared before council seeking a change in the zoning regulations to remove dogs from the category of farm animals in the guidelines that prohibit more than two animals on a property.

He questioned the regulations at the previous council meeting after the Planning and Zoning Commission refused a request he and his wife made for a zoning variance. The couple wants to operate a kennel and breed and sell dogs. They own seven medium-sized dogs which some of their neighbors and some council members say were too many for their property.

Council member Martin praised Aubry for working for change in the zoning regulations.

“If you don’t agree with it, you work to change it,” Martin said.”I agree that things have to be rewritten, and Planning and Zoning is working on it.”

Garver explained the procedure for changes in the zoning regulations, adding that council cannot act without a recommendation from the Planning and Zoning Commission.

“It seems as though many are in agreement that it needs to be looked at,” Garver said.

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